Healthy Family Attributes

Good boundaries, sense of individuation.

Supportive of each other, relational.

Affirms dignity and worth, nurturing.

Honest and forthright.

Externalizes problems to be solved
and collaborates.

Resists splitting (triangulation).

Contributes to the family Gestalt.

Atmosphere of love and trust.

Helping gives from abundance.

Maintains honor, creates legacy.

Forgives transgressions,
reconciles relationships.

Dysfunctional Family Attributes

Enmeshed, too richly cross-joined.

Sibling rivalry, overly competitive.

Shaming, critical, or indifferent.

Deceitful with agendas.

Personalizes problems through
blame and avoids.


Takers drains family resources.

Atmosphere of love punctuated by
fear and suspicion.

Token giving, with strings attached.

Impugns heritage, rests on laurels.

Holds on to resentments, keeps score.

Paul Breaux, Business Consultant and Proprietor of SBS Partners, LLC and I have developed a model to identify, assess, and intervene into family businesses that are in trouble because of dysfunctional family dynamics. Families have their own unique, historical way of relating to each other. The way in which a family relates is a primordial relationship, meaning that the family relationship will tend to supersede other types of relationships including those formed to conduct business. In general, how the family relates as family is an indicator of how they can reasonably expect to relate in other undertakings. Healthier family systems will succeed more in business than family systems that are dysfunctional.

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